Tennessee Walking Horse Facts And Information – Breed Profile

The Tennessee Walking Horse is also known as the Tennessee walker or the Plantation walking horse since it was developed for use in plantations. The horse is known for its running walk and unique gait. 

These horses are usually found in the show ring and are also used on trails. It is also used as a riding horse. The horse was bred in Tennessee in the United States in the 18th century.

Tennessee Walking Horse

It is a tall horse that has a long neck. The horse is known for its gentle behavior, making it a horse that is easily trainable.


The Tennesse walking horse was bred from the Narragansett pacers and Canadian pacers that were bred with the Spanish Mustang gaited horse. They bred in Middle Tennessee and hence got their name. They were initially known as the Tennessee pacers.

They were originally bred as all-purpose horses that could work in plantations and also be used for racing. Subsequently, they were crossed with other breeds. 1886 marked an important year with the birth of Black Allan. This horse was used for breeding along with its foal Roan Allen.

In 1935, the Tennessee walking horse breeders was formed. Later in 1974, it was renamed as the Tennessee walking horse breeders Exhibitors Association (TWHBEA). To be eligible for registration, the stud and dam must both be registered and the studbook is no longer operational.

The horse is the official horse of the state of Tennessee in the US. The United States Department of Agriculture has recognized this horse as a unique breed.


The Tennessee horse is an elegant horse that makes it suitable for the show ring. At the same time, it is a sturdy horse that was intended for use in plantations for heavy work.

The smooth gaits, which is in the form of a running walk is the key characteristic of this horse. It is a fast form of the flat walk. The back feet move up ahead of the path that has been left by the front feet.

The overstride of the horse makes it look as though the horse is gliding. The horses bob their head that rhythmically match the gait. Apart from their natural walk and canter, they can also learn the fox trot, single foot, and stepping pace.


The horse requires a balanced diet with carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, and vitamins. Fresh grass, oats, and hay along with cereals is the ideal diet that this horse can be given.

The horse needs sufficient fresh water. 

Breeding And Uses

This horse was bred as utility horse. The objective was to use it on the farm and at the same time use for riding. The naturally gaited horse is used for show riding.

The studbook of the horse was closed in 1947. This makes it mandatory for both the parents to be registered for a horse to be registered.

The horse has multiple uses making it a very handy horse for owners. 


The Tennessee Walking horse weighs between 900 pounds (410 kgs) to 1200 pounds (540 kgs).

The horse height varies from 14.3 hands (59 inches or 15 cm) to 17 hands (68 inches or 173 cm).

What Breeds Make Up The Tennessee Walking Horse?

This breed of horse was made up of the Narragansett pacers, Canadian pacers, and the Spanish Mustang horses. Later on, other blood added to the breed was from the Thoroughbred, Standardbred, Morgan, and American Saddlebred.

Born from a Morgan mare and a Standardbred stallion, Black Allan became the foundation sire for the modern Tennessee walking horse. 


The Tennessee walker breeders have no restrictions when it comes to the color of the horse. The horses are found with coat colors like black, white, grey, chestnut, dun, bay, roan, and palomino.

What Do They Look Like?

The Tennessee Walking horse has a head that is low. The croup is sloping and is curved in the hocks. The neck is long. The ears of the horse are small. It has long sloping shoulders with a strong back.

The hindquarters are muscular. The hind legs tend to be over-angulated.

Show horses are shown in padded shoes to show their high-stepping action. Leisure horses are flat-shod.

What Is A Tennessee Walking Horse Used For?

These horses are popularly used as show horses. They are used in riding. They are also used as leisure horses. They are trail horses and can use Western and English equipment.

The horse has also been used for endurance events. The horse has been crossed with Welsh ponies to come out with a pony breed known as the American walking pony.

This horse has been featured in movies and TV shows. Silver, Long Ranger’s horse was portrayed by a Tennessee walker. The horse trigger jr successor of the original trigger horse was portrayed by a Tennesse walker horse named Allen’s Gold Zephyr.

Where Do They Live?

Tennessee Walking horses originated in Tennessee and is the third most common horse in Kentucky. It is found more in the south and southeast of the country. It is also found across the entire US.

It is estimated that there are 400,000 horses registered. There are more than 19,000 members registered in the association.

Apart from the US, the horse is also found in other countries, including the UK and Australia.

How Long Do They Live?

The Tennessee walking horses live a full life of up to 30 years. This makes them one among the various long-living horses.

The horses are generally healthy but can face certain specific health issues. Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis, malignant hyperthermia, and polysaccharide storage myopathy are some of the disorders the horse can suffer from. Back pain is another issue the horse may suffer. It is important to get the horse regularly checked for these conditions.

How Fast Are They?

The horse doing a flat walk moves at 4 to 8 miles per hour. When it does the running walk, its speed is 10 to 20 miles per hour, which on average is the highest speed it can reach.

How Much Do They Cost?

The Tennessee walking horse on average costs anywhere from $1000 to $5000. If you want a registered horse, you must be prepared to pay around $10,000. The highest price for a Tennessee walking horse was 1.5 million dollars paid to a horse called NYPD.

The price of the horse depends on factors like age, gender, color, training undergone, and size. The health condition of the horse also affects its price.

Are They A Good Breed For Beginners?

The Tennessee walking horse is one of the best horses for training. It has a calm and pleasant temperament. It is gentle in nature and amenable to training. This makes the horse suitable for training for show events, riding, and as a leisure horse.

It is docile in nature that makes it suitable for all types of horse riders. Beginners can also ride this horse. The principal benefit offered by this horse is its smooth gait. This ensures even people with back pain and other such issues can comfortably ride this horse.

The horse is used even to teach children how to ride. Its friendly nature and the fact that it is dependable makes it the best horse for beginners. The horse enjoys companionship and gets along well with its rider.

Whatever may be your experience with horses, the Tennessee walker would be an ideal horse for you. Its versatility ensures it can be used for various purposes.

Conclusion / Summary

The Tennessee walking horse is a unique horse that was bred in the limestone pastures in Tennessee. The Narragansett from which it was bred is now extinct and was considered on the first horses to be bred in the US. Many other bloodlines have been added to make this horse a versatile one.

The horse registration is managed by the TWHBEA (Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association). On average thirteen to fifteen thousand foals are registered every year. The horse is one of the popular ones thanks to its pleasant temperament and versatility of use.

The horse is found in the show ring. It is used for trail riding, endurance riding, and for leisure riding. It has been seen in many televisions shows and movies.

The Tennessee walker is one of the best horses for beginners. It is calm in nature, willing to be trained, reliable, and easy to work with. Even school children can ride on this horse, thanks to this temperament.

The principal feature of this horse is its unique gait. It has three gaits that define its characteristics. One is its running walk, the other the foot walk, and the third the canter. It can also be trained to carry out variations of different walking types. The overstriding, where the horse appears to be hitting its front leg with its back is a unique feature of the horse.

The horse lives up to 30 years and is generally in good health.

There’s a whole world of horse breeds out there to explore! Discover and find out more information by checking out our horse breed guides.